Burma arrests three on NLD anniversary

Rangoon (dpa) - The military government arrested at least three National League for Democracy (NLD) supporters Saturday before the opposition party celebrated its 20-year anniversary, witnesses said.

Police detained two men and one women near the NLD headquarters before the anniversary ceremony to mark the establishment of the party in 1988.

Before the ceremony about 10 people shouted slogans including "Free Aung San Suu Kyi" and released birds from cages in front of the NLD headquarters, but it was unclear if those arrested were part of that group.

Journalist U Win Tin, 79, who was released from 19 years in prison last Tuesday, attended the anniversary celebration for his first time, having been in prison on all the previous anniversaries.

He said he would help NLD and its leader Suu Kyi in the struggle for democracy.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi remained under house arrest and could not attend the ceremony. She has been under house arrest for 13 of the last 19 years.

Before U Win Tin was released last Tuesday, as part of a broad amnesty that freed 9,002 prisoners, he was Burma's longest-serving political prisoner.

Two NLD members who were also released on Tuesday, U Khin Maung Swe and Dr Than Nyein, also Saturday's attended celebration.

Missing from the ceremony was NLD member Win Htien who was one of the 9,002 released last Tuesday, but was arrested again less than a day later.

Win Htien was a founding member of the NLD in 1988.

NLD chairman U Aung Shwe issued a statement calling for the military junta to immediately release Suu Kyi and NLD vice chairman U Tin Oo from detention "because of their unrelenting efforts for the emergence of democracy and human rights in the country."

U Aung Shwe also called for the release of all other political prisoners. The United Nations puts that number at about 2,000.

While the junta holds absolute power in Burma, the international community still supports Suu Kyi as the most credible leader of the country. The NLD won the 1990 elections in a landslide, but the junta refused to recognize the results.

Bangkok Post